Courtesy of Danielle Campoamor

Sleep Training Is A Privileged Choice — Let's Face It

Ad failed to load

I've only been a mother for three years, but I feel confident in saying I've engaged in nearly every "controversial" parenting topic imaginable. I've defended my choice to breastfeed in public and, later, wean after seven months. I have dodged judgmental eyebrow raises when wearing my child and when pushing him in a stroller. I've survived sharing a picture of my crying child on Santa's lap, and traversed the minefield that is the comment section of any article pertaining to medicated births. But I've never had to argue for sleep-training, because sleep-training is a privileged choice that has never been afforded to me. And like anything else pertaining to motherhood, I've come to realize that I'm not the only parent who has been spared the "co-sleeping versus sleep training" battle royale due to a lack of options and limited living space.

There are a few things you need in order to make sleep-training work, depending on who you talk to. First and foremost, you need a safe sleeping space — preferably a crib, devoid of any blankets, pillows, and any unnecessary trinkets — to ensure the risk of suffocation is minimal. You need some patience, I'm assuming, and depending on the method you use, a watch to countdown the seconds until you're allowed to enter the room and console your unhappy spawn. But what you definitely need, no matter which sleep-training method you choose, is space.

Not everyone has the space to put their child in a separate room, let alone the space to facilitate 'crying it out.'
Ad failed to load

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), 35 percent of households are single-family, meaning the other 65 percent are apartments or mobile homes. Of all households, 9 percent are occupied by married couples with children, and 13 percent by single parents, while 23 percent of all occupants are children under the age of 18 — so a lot of children to cram into the nation’s housing stock, which is disproportionately scattered between standalone houses with multiple bedrooms and apartments occupied by families. And since 31 percent of occupants make less than $20,000 a year, the ability to move into a larger living space before and/or after a baby arrives isn't always an option. For example, if you lived in New York City in 2017, you needed a wage of $28 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment. And that's if you have a home: families accounted for 37 percent of the homeless population and 50 percent of the sheltered population in 2014, per HUD data.

In other words, not everyone has the space to put their child in a separate room, let alone the space to facilitate "crying it out" or any other sleep-training method that would require a baby to claim another bedroom as their dormitory.

Courtesy of Danielle Campoamor
Ad failed to load

My partner and I were living in a single-bedroom apartment, approximately 600 square feet in size, when I found out I was expecting twins. Initially we considered upgrading our residence, in preparation for a double dose of all things baby. We were both employed, both financially stable, and, together, had no doubts about being able to maintain financial obligations like credit-card payments, cell-phone plans, grocery bills, and car payments after an increase in monthly rent payments. But after pregnancy complications that included a blood infection, a week-long hospital stay, and, at 19 weeks, the loss of one of the twins, I lost my job. My employer deemed my "condition" too "unpredictable," and since I was employed by a family business that had less than 15 workers, there was nothing I could do, legally, to maintain my employment status.

Recently, Gloria De Piero, the shadow minister for women and equality in the U.K., completed an analysis of labor data that found as many as 50,000 women had been forced out of their jobs due to "pregnancy discrimination," with many more experiencing "soft discrimination." And in the U.K., the remedy for women who have suffered discrimination is lacking — they currently must pay for the right to take their employer to a workplace tribunal. As she wrote in The Guardian, "It's time to call time on maternity discrimination once and for all."

We would be a co-sleeping family, because that was our only option.
Ad failed to load

Down a steady income and attempting to navigate the mental, emotional, and physical ramifications of a 19-week fetal loss, my partner and I knew we were staying put. If I could bring my son to term and birth him into this world, I would be bringing him home to a tiny one-bedroom apartment filled to the brim with diapers, wipes, baby clothes, toys, a swing, and a small bassinet and crib positioned right next to our bed. We would be a co-sleeping family, because that was our only option.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the reasonable restriction of the number of occupants in an apartment is two people per bedroom plus one additional occupant. But reports that many landlords, "in order to not discriminate based on family status," have chosen to go with the following guidelines: two people per bedroom + one other person or two people per bedroom, not counting children under a certain age. In other words, if the children are young there's rarely, if ever, a legal reason for a family to vacate their home and/or upgrade to a larger living space. My partner and I weren't asked to leave after the birth of our son, thank the rental gods, and our landlord was accommodating as landlords come. In so many ways, we were lucky. We had a home.

Courtesy of Danielle Campoamor
Ad failed to load

But the undeniable prosperity of our living situation didn't mean it was easy. As a new, exhausted, overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, breastfeeding mother who spent her days alone with what could only be described as a 6-pound, 14-ounce sack of skin and spit-up, the walls of our already tiny living space seemed to be closing in by the minute. I was touched out, bored and stressed simultaneously, and frequently daydreaming about an actual dining room and a separate bedroom and a kitchen that didn't bleed into our living room.

I was jealous of my friends with houses and multi-bedroom apartments.

Before I knew it I was suffering from postpartum depression (PPD), unsure of my decision to become a mother and resentful of the safe home I knew I was lucky to call my own. After all, it was a loving, warm, inviting, comforting place. But holy hell was it small, and the obligations of new-mom life, the weight of depression, the difficulties associated with breastfeeding, and not a single part of the apartment that I could call my own made it seem, at times, like more of a cage than a condo.

Ad failed to load

I wanted space, and it was never afforded to me, especially at night. While there's an undeniable convenience in simply rolling to one side and grabbing your fussy child in the middle of the night, popping a boob in their mouth while you're half-asleep, I would be lying if I claimed I didn't consider a weary walk from my bedroom to my child's non-existent nursery to be a perk. I was jealous of my friends with houses and multi-bedroom apartments. I frequently lusted over carefully planned baby-room decors and changing tables and rocking chairs because that meant someone actually owned the space to house them and decorate them and present them to the world via carefully crafted social media posts that made me want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon.

I would watch new mothers and seasoned parents argue online, discussing bed-sharing versus co-sleeping versus sleep-training and the virtues and perceived failings of each. And it took all the limited strength I had to keep myself from saying, "At least you had a choice." In so many situations, mothers aren't afforded the ability to weigh their options and make their own, personal decisions. Instead, one choice is thrust upon them and they must learn to adjust accordingly and at a rate that is nothing if not unforgiving.

Courtesy of Danielle Campoamor
Ad failed to load

Now that my son is a defiant three-year-old toddler with an affinity for all toys related to Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and Baby Alive dolls, I'm thankful my partner and I were finally able to move into a two-bedroom apartment about a year and a half ago. I was able to secure full-time employment shortly after my son's first birthday and after a little over a year of somewhat steady freelance work, positioning my family in a financial situation that would allow us to afford more space.

But as the years go by and my son continues to grow and, with him, the accumulation of toys, books, and clothes, I am reminded of our previous living situation and the parenting choices it forced my partner and I to make. We were lucky. We had a warm, loving home. We had our own area, as cramped as it may have been. We had each other. But we didn't always have the space, or the freedom that space affords, to make the choices other parents seem so hellbent on arguing with one another about. And like almost every other parenting experience under the sun, I know we aren't alone.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.

Ad failed to load
Ad failed to load
Must Reads

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

I’m Registered At Babies “R” Us, & I'm Freaking The Hell Out

Hi. My name is Abi, and I’m registered at Babies “R” Us — and I’m freaking out. This may sound silly, but after being a die-hard Toys “R” Us kid, I was so excited to register at their baby store once my husband and I finally got our big fat positive …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

Women Who Miscarry Early Deserve To Grieve — Here's How Hospitals Should Be Helping

When I lost my baby back in 2013, it was because of a very early miscarriage. Because of the little amount of time I spent being pregnant, it was though my child had never really existed, which made the next few years hard — I felt like they had been…
By Risa Kerslake

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Reasons Why March Babies Are Total Badasses

From the moment you become pregnant, you begin to wonder what your little one will be like. Will they look like you, your partner, or your Great Aunt Edna? Will they be the quiet, thoughtful type or arrive on this planet raring to go? It's fun to ima…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

9 Easy Kid Foods To Turn Green, Just In Time For St. Patrick's Day

The best part about having kids is that you get your own personal crew to celebrate the holidays with, in all your color coordinating and matching glory. And with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, you are obviously working on turning everyth…
By Mishal Ali Zafar

Here Are Some Conditions That Might Require You To Be On Bed Rest During Pregnancy

When I worked in an office, I worked with quite a few pregnant ladies all at the same time. Something must have been in the water, because while I was there for three years, two of my coworkers got pregnant twice, and another girl was pregnant with h…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

I Didn't Follow The Pregnancy Diet Rules & My Daughter Turned Out Just Fine

My diet is an ever-changing and wholly personal thing, which is precisely why I refused to follow any pregnancy diet rules when I was expecting my daughter. For years, I've essentially practiced intuitive eating, in that I listen to my body and eat w…
By Marie Southard Ospina

5 Foods You & Your Partner Should Eat If You're Trying To Get Pregnant

When you're trying to conceive (TTC) and it's just not happening, it's easy to feel like you're doing something wrong. It can be soul-crushing to keep seeing negatives when all you really want to do is wave a positive pregnancy test in the air. So wh…
By Kate Miller